Bangkok Post

Stand back in Singapore or end up in jail

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SINGAPORE: Getting within a metre of another person at a restaurant or a shopping queue in Singapore can now land you in prison under some of the toughest punishment­s seen worldwide to implement social distancing during the coronaviru­s pandemic.

The city-state’s no-nonsense approach and extensive surveillan­ce during a two-month-long virus battle has won internatio­nal praise, and had allowed it to largely avoid curtailing daily life until a surge of cases in the last week.

But confusion over some of the new measures has seen some call for a clearer stance such as total lockdowns like those seen in Britain, France and Italy.

“Easier to lockdown than to have so many new rules to remember,” Facebook user Meng Yang commented on a local news article about the new measures.

Others questioned whether the rules would apply to public transport during busy commuting hours or between family members.

“I can’t sit opposite my son or wife as well? Will my son be jailed? He is only seven,” wrote another user Damian Chee.

The updates to Singapore’s powerful infectious diseases law which came into effect yesterday have been accompanie­d by other measures such as shutting bars and limiting gatherings to up to 10 people outside work and school.

The updates state that anyone who intentiona­lly sits less than a metre away from another person in a public place or on a fixed seat demarcated as not to be occupied, or who stands in a queue less than a metre away from another, will be guilty of an offence.

The rules, in place until April 30, can be applied to individual­s and businesses and offenders can be fined up to S$10,000 (227,500 baht), jailed for up to six months, or both.

Authoritie­s have said more drastic measures may be needed if locals do not take social distancing seriously.

Singapore reported 73 new infections on Wednesday — its biggest daily jump — and a further 52 infections on Thursday, taking its total to 683.

 ?? REUTERS ?? Commuters wait for transport to leave the Woodlands Causeway across to Singapore from Johor, hours before Malaysia closed its borders.
REUTERS Commuters wait for transport to leave the Woodlands Causeway across to Singapore from Johor, hours before Malaysia closed its borders.

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